World War II WASP recounts her story

WW2-WASPS-female-pilotsAnd when you were flying, was it under Foster?


Answer: Right.


Question: Okay.  I just had one woman — that was real important to her that I put her maiden name in.  She was a high speed radio operator and just in case anybody knew her.


Answer: Oh, wow.


Question: So.  Now, you — you kind of have — now, how did you actually – well, let me start with Pearl Harbor.  Where were you when Pearl Harbor happened?


Answer: I was in Miami.  At that time, 1941, I was working as a beauty operator and also taking flying lessons when I — I accumulated enough money to buy some time.  Flying time.


Question: So you were already flying?


Answer: Yes.


Question: Prior to the war.


Answer: Yes.


Question: So it was — prior to Pearl Harbor.


Answer: It was a long process, of flying.  Maybe I could only get a half hour time at – at the airport.


Question: So — what — that was a love of yours from — way back?


Answer: It — it became a lot I think because of — Miami, there was so much flying around that you just naturally were drawn to airplanes.  We lived not too far from the Dinner Key place where the large clippers — Pan American Clippers came in and landed on the water.  That was a great sport to go out and see these airplanes land on the water and being drawn up to let the passengers get off of the plane.  And it was just sort of a — a fascinating thought of air travel.  Not thinking that I would be flying myself, but eventually it came to that.


Question: Was it — was it uncommon, when you started flying, was it uncommon for women to be flying, even in that — just for fun?


Answer: I think it was.  I did have a good friend who was an instructor, and in fact she was my primary instructor with — when I first started flying.  And she was quite an accomplished pilot, but she was really the only  one I knew who was flying at that time.  I did, when I was in school, I belonged to the Civil Air Patrol, and this was just an organization that supported whenever there was an air show or anything like that, we would sort of help out.  So I — I had interest at that time in — in high school.  And then I belonged to another organization called Women Pilots of Americ


Answer: And that also was made up of women.  None of us were pilots, but we were just interested.  And the person who organized it was a pilot, a woman pilot.  And so we had meetings together and did things together and so there was an interest there.


Question: Huh.  Sounds like a fun group.  I mean, fun group of people.


Answer: Yes.  And I went out to the airport and saw Lindbergh when he was there and Amelia Earhardt was there at one time, and so it was — so that area was really an area where flying was supported, partly by the people who lived there.


Question: What was the first type of plane that you flew in, do you remember?


Answer: A Cub, JC3 Cub.  It was a land plane. And after I soloed, I, because it was a long way to go to the airfield, I had to take a couple of buses to get there.  I decided to transfer over to seaplanes which was much closer to where I lived.  And so I then flew seaplanes and got my private license on a seaplane.  And that was great sport because we could take off on the water and do our pylon eights around fishing boats and that sort of thing, yes.


Question: Now this would be just — just the end of the Depression?  Is that about when?


Answer: Oh, I probably started flying in ’41.


Question: In ’41, okay, so economy was picking up and —


Answer: Yeah, I graduated in ’39, so it was not an easy time for families.


Question: Cause it seems like, I know, today, flying is a fairly expensive —


Answer: It was expensive then.  It was $10 an hour and you could work all day for $10.  (laughs)


Question: So how did you — how did you finance your training?  Your flight training?


Answer: Through — through working as a beautician, beauty operator.


Question: Huh.


Answer: Probably a shampoo and set at that time was about $2.50.


Question: So you had to do a lot of those to make enough to —


Answer: Yes, right.


Question: Wow.


Question: So how did you get involved with the WASPs then?


Answer: I happened to see a little article in the newspaper that said there was someone in town that was going to interview young women who might be interested in an experimental program regarding flying and — military flying, and they were suggesting women come down for an interview.  So I called and went down for an interview and was accepted, had a physical and from then on, I was engaged.


Question: Were they real up front right away to say, even though it was a military exercise, that it was going to be transporting planes and things like that or did you think that maybe you were —


Answer: No.  Actually we — it was for the training program.  And as far as what we would be doing if we graduated, I don’t recall that being related to us.


Question: You just saw flying and thought —


Answer: Well, it seemed like a wonderful opportunity and I — I’ve always been one that sought opportunities and even though I’m the only one going for it, I sort of push myself, I guess, to go for it.


Question: Huh.  Were there a lot of women that — that applied for the — to get into the WASPs?  I mean, did they have a certain number they’d let in or —


Answer: There were over 25,000 who actually sent in applications for the program.  But the program was only two and a half years.  A little less than two and a half years.  And so they’re — they weren’t able to take very many.  I think it was a thousand and — I don’t recall now the exact number that did go in, but a thousand and seventy graduated.


Question: Wow.


Answer: So it was a small group. Because it was only two and a half years.


Question: So What did your — were your mom and dad alive at this time?


Answer: Yes.


Question: So what did they think about you signing up for the Service and —


Answer: They were very supportive, but fearful, naturally.  My brother was in the Navy at the time and they were concerned about him.  He had a family.  I was single, and I — they were concerned, but they were supportive.  And I’m sure my dad thought it was a great adventure for me.  Mother was probably more fearful.


Question: That’s a Mom’s job.


Answer: Yes.


Question: So where did you then go to do your WASP training?


Answer: For, in fact I took off on my first commercial airline flight from Miami to Abilene, Texas, which is the closest we could get to a commercial field to Sweetwater, Texas.  That — that was a DC3 as I recall and we made a couple landings to gas up en route.  That was flying, at that time.  So I — after getting to Abilene, Texas, then I took a bus to Sweetwater, so Sweetwater was our home for the flying training program, for the WASPs.


Question: So you’d been flying a Piper before you even had a commercial flight then, before you ever flew on a big plane?


Answer: Yes.


Question: Oh, wow.  So when you got there, were they prepared for all these women, or was this a whole new adventure for the military as well?


Answer: This was — this was an experiment still.  However, there had been several classes who had gone through before I got there.  I was in one of the later classes.  I — the program started in the fall of ’42, and I was there, my class started in December of ’43.  So, and then I graduated in June of ’44.  Program was over in December of ’44.


Question: Oh, wow.


Answer: So there wasn’t a lot of time.


Question: And what were they telling you your duty was going to be as a — as a WASP?


Answer: The first women went through and they were assigned to the ferry command.  There was a great need for women to fly these airplanes that came off the assembly line to the points of embarkation and also to — to the various schools and ports, bases around the United States.  So the first women went through the ferry command.  Then the later women, for instance myself, we were assigned to the training command.  And in the training command, we did whatever job was needed, routine kind of job, that was needed at the base. And we were happy to do that.  We — some of us — I didn’t tow targets, but some of them flew airplane — tow targets, over a routine kind of course, every day, several hours during the day, and they loved it.  I happened to be assigned to the — a basic training school in Courtland, Alabama, that was my first assignment after graduation.  And there I tested aircraft that had come off of maintenance.  We would slow flight them and so forth and make checks on — on the — the various — inside the airplane, make remarks on how it flew and so forth.  And then I also carried people around who couldn’t fly — who did not have a license.  And I picked up supplies at a Depot, that sort of thing.  And from there I did go through Orlando.  They had an officer training class there.  I think it was a short course but I went through that.  I — we were asked if we’d like to do that and I said sure.  So I did that, and I also went back to Sweetwater for an advanced instrument course.  I did that.

And after that I was assigned to Eglin Air Force Base, which was the proving ground command at that time.  Eglin had a number of gunnery schools located in Florida and — around the base.  And I was assigned, along with three other WASPs, to the maintenance field.  And from the maintenance field we would go to a gunnery school, pick up an airplane that needed repair, service and so forth, and ferry it to the maintenance field, and then take it back again when it was repaired.


Question: What type of planes?


Answer: These were T-6s.  AT-6s.


Question: Now is that a smaller plane?  The AT-6 is a —


Answer: Let’s see, the T-6 was 650 horse power and it was an advance — it was our advanced trainer.  Wonderful airplane.  Everyone loves the AT-6.  It still performs in air shows around to this day.


Question: Is that what, a two-person crew?


Answer: Yes, hm-hmm.


Question: Yeah.


Answer: Tandem seating.


Question: Huh.  And you were the head pilot?  You were in the front seat?


Answer: As, if I was designated as a pilot, yes.


Question: So where was it you were taking the planes to and from?


Answer: Gunnery school.  Gunnery school to the maintenance.  Which were short flights, maybe 15 minutes, 20 minutes at the most.  Fifteen minutes over, land, pick up another airplane, fly it back again.  So we did that all day long.


Question: Well, and it was racking up your — your flight time so you’re filling in on that —


Answer: A little bit.  Sometimes we’d go to a field and it was rather windy, so the cadets there weren’t flying.  They were shooting at targets and things on the airplanes.  And we would go in.  And when I saw a line of young men sitting out on the flight line, I would always hope that my landing would be perfect, as I came in.  Cause I knew they were watching.


Question: So there was a little bit of that pressure on then, male/female pressure on there.


Answer: Well, there weren’t very many of us and we all wanted to do a good job and, you know, we were thrilled to be able to be doing what we were doing.


Question: Were you — were you kept separate a lot?  I mean the WASPs and then the —


Answer: Well, we had some men who were also assigned to the maintenance field who were flying along with us, too.  Cause there were a lot of airplanes.  There were a lot of — there were about four gunnery schools, so we were busy.  The planes had to be serviced and some of them were shot up, and you know, it’s just always a lot of work.


Question: That’s the thing people forget about or don’t realize is that while all this was happening over in Europe and the South Pacific, there still was all this going on over here.  That you had to train those people.


Answer: Well, that’s right.  And the — the reason for the WASP program to begin with was because the need was so great for pilots.  And as soon as a man went through training school, then he went into transition, he was sent overseas.  But still there were so many routine kind of jobs that had to be done down in the United States, so some of the men had to do — stay here, and do these routine kind of jobs.  So why not, Jacquelyn Cochran said, why not have women do these routine kind of jobs?  Train them to do them.  And all within the United States.  And so that’s what her program, was to train women to do these routine kind of jobs and release the men to go overseas.  Because the need was so great.


Question: Did you realize or feel also, it was a patriotic issue that you were doing?  That you were part of the war effort or —


Answer: Oh, everyone — everyone wanted to — during World War II, wanted to do something for the war effort.  We were — no matter what you age was. You were out there trying to do something.  And growing up in Miami, I, during the war time, before I left, I can remember seeing tankers on fire out at — off the beach.  And there was always the thought that there would be landings on the beach.  So it’s — we were well aware of — that the war was going on and the dangers of — to the United States.  As I said, everyone was trying to do something.


Question: Did you — the young men that were being trained and sent off.  Did you have contact with those people, were those just a separate group of people that you saw coming and going?


Answer: We knew they were — and I had met some of the Navy people while I was still in Miami, and they were — soon as they went through training, they were shipped out.  On carriers or something.  So it was — the training was very fast.


Question: That must have been hard to watch.  I mean I have a little perception.  I used to go through North Fort during Viet Nam and see the young kids being sent off on trains and stuff like that.  But to know where these pilots were going and what they were facing must have been a hard thing to —


Answer: They were all in good spirit and they were all very patriotic.  And I think they all tried very hard to be best pilots they could be, cause they knew how important it was.  And the same with us.  We knew that we were needed and we certainly tried to do our best.  Actually we had little contact with the men as far as social.  During training and so forth.  In fact they referred — it was often referred to, our training area, as Cochran’s Convent, because there were no — it was closed to all outside flying.  And occasionally someone would come in for gas but they were sent out right away.  Our training went rather fast and it was — we had washouts and dropouts so we were always concerned about making it.  Graduating.  That was always a thought in our head.


Question: So what was your — what was your rank then?


Answer: We — there was no legal means to make us part of the military.  We were Civil Service employees.  We had no rank.  We were under the military discipline and we were — we had women who were establishment officers at the base, Sweetwater.  We were — we had bed checks, we had drills, we had — it was a — a program that was based on the same program as the Army cadets have, except that we, as far as flying was concerned, we had more emphasis, or the emphasis was on the cross country flying instead of aerobatics.  And even though we did some aerobatics, but not for the fighting part of it.  So — but we were always concerned about making it through training.  The program, as I said, was only two and a half years and it — when it was over, we were all very sad.  However at that time, in 1944, the end of December, things were looking much better in Europe and the men started coming home and needing jobs, flying jobs in the United States, so it was thought — Congress thought, why militarize these women, why keep training the women, when we have men here coming back now who can take over these jobs.  So that’s why Congress decided to not militarize the WASP and Jacquelyn Cochran said if we aren’t a part of the military, then we will disband.  And Congress voted no and Jacquelyn Cochran said all right, we’ll disband.  So that’s why our program folded.


Question: And that was it.


Answer: And that was it.


Question: Just like that.


Answer: Hm-hmm.


Question: Now was — was Miss Cochran, was she military, or she wasn’t military?


Answer: No, she wasn’t.


Question: She was a civilian —


Answer: Right.


Question: So the whole WASP was civilian with — within the military.


Answer: It was under the military supervision and also discipline, and we had no insurance, life insurance.  Thirty-eight women died and when they were killed they had to be — their remains shipped home, collections had to be taken up at the bases to send the remains home.  They got no flag for burial.  So it was a rather sad situation.  But it was an awkward situation in that there was no legal means to make us part of the military.  Now, of course, that was rectified.  It was a long battle to recognize the service in later years.  So in 19 — and there were no more women flying, until 1976, for the military.  1976, then the Navy took in — I think they sent the first two women to Navy aviation school.  Of course today, there are many women flying, all — all kind of airplanes and in various military combat units, so it’s — it’s come a long way.  And we feel very pleased that we were the first women to fly military aircraft in the United States for the Army Air Corps, and we sort of did a good job and it was recognized as such.  And now we do have military status as of 1979 and we have — we can wear our ribbons and we can have a flag at our burial.


Question: So it is retroactive — the military —


Answer: Yes, hm-hmm.


Question: Huh.  Boy, what a neat piece of history to have been a part of.  I mean, to realize that between the end of the ’40’s and 1970 some, there’s a 30-year period that no other women did what you did that flew war.


Answer: Well, it’s great.  We — we get together every two years, have a reunion, and there’s still a lot of us around.  There — we just had a reunion in October and I think there were about 400 and there are some family members who come to our reunions.  Our memorabilia is being taken care of by Texas Women’s University.  They have quite a — a nice place that they want all of our materials that we have so they can have it for people who want to go and research the program.  At our reunion we stopped off at the Texas Women’s University and saw what they had and stayed with them a couple of days.  And then we went to Sweetwater, our home, and were there for a couple of days.  And then we went to Midland, Texas.  The Confederate Air Force, where they have all these airplanes that we flew and that were flown during World War II.  They — the WASPs actually flew just about every kind of aircraft that was available in World War II.  I think it  was mentioned about 78 different airplanes, including the B-29, which had just come off the assembly lines.


Question: Wow.


Answer: So it was quite an opportunity and also we did our job.


Question: Cause a lot of times the WASPs would get to fly a brand new plane, right?  When it was done off the assembly line and —


Answer: They had never even been tested before, yes, right.


Question: See, you have all these things going on.  Because you have all this new technology coming out, so you got these planes that are being tweaked and fine-tuned and sent out.  People are having to fly in those and not —


Answer: Well, the — the airplanes are needed.  And so it’s necessary to get them out, delivered, as fast as possible.


Question: Did you end up flying a variety of planes or were you —


Answer: I flew mostly trainers.  I did get to check out the B-25 and a P-39, and a P-39 of course you just read about the — how the airplane flies and what the numbers are that you should engage when you’re flying, and then you take off, which is a little different, so that was a thrill.


Question: Wow, boy, yeah, that must have been.


Answer: Yeah.  So we were given lots of opportunities at the end, when they saw the program was folding, to fly whatever was available on the base.  They were very nice to us.


Question: Was there an equality? I mean, was there a certain point — where, we talk about the country as a whole coming together.  Did the male/female become invisible to a certain extent in the fact that we needed people to do jobs?


Answer: I think that some of the women apparently at some of the bases, were not treated quite as — as well as they thought they should be.  I think there was always — not always, but I think there occasionally was a commander who thought — can women fly?  I don’t want them to damage any of my airplanes.  In fact I have a WASP friend who, at one of the bases where she was, she was threatened, they were threatened, two of them.  If they put a mark on one of those airplanes.  So, you know, you have that little cloud over you.  I never met that kind of expression myself.  But on the whole, particularly those women who were towing targets.  The commanders just thought they were great.  Because they didn’t mind going over the same area, back and forth, all day long.  Whereas for a man, it would be kind of hard, you know? They’d want to be doing something else.


Question: Wanted to be over fighting.


Answer: Sure.


Question: They wanted to be — that’s a lot of pilots I talked to, boy, that was it.  Boy, we wanted to get out of that training and —


Answer: Well, sure, get this job done.  Yeah.


Question: So you had to answer, then, even though you were a civilian, you had to answer to an officer — I mean, so did the military and the civilian interface somehow?


Answer: Yes, as I said, we had establishment officers, women, at the — at Sweetwater.  And if the military had a complaint, they would go through the women establishment officers.  And there were some women who — who were washed out, for various reasons.  And — and there were dropouts, too, because some of the women found that it wasn’t really what they wanted.


Question: Did you live in barracks — you lived in barracks then or did you —


Answer: Hm-hmm.  We lived in barracks, and we called them bays.  There were six women to a bay, one bathroom.  On cots.  We — we would have checks on Saturday morning to see how clean the room was.  And unfortunately, in Sweetwater, we had sand galore, and we had wind, always.  And you could clean up your room and then a wind storm would come and the sand would come right through the windows, so it was kind of hard.  I guess maybe the inspectors took that into consideration, but we were always very concerned that we weren’t going to pass.


Question: How did you — well, did you have much free time, and if so, how did you pas free time away?


Answer: We didn’t have — my class didn’t have much free time.  When we got there in December, we got there December the 7th, and on December the 24th, we had a storm.  And it was a lot of snow and so we didn’t fly for a few days.  Flying open cockpit in the very intense cold.  I didn’t have heavy flying gear, I only had a jacket.  I didn’t have boots, or pants.  And so it was very cold.  And they called off flying, but we still went to the flight line and — and sat on the flight line.  So we were delayed quite a bit, at first.  About two weeks.  And so we had to make up that time.  And time off, we could go into a little town, Sweetwater, and they greeted us with open arms there.  The — and of course we had a rec hall and music and that sort of thing.  But I think most of us, it seems to me like in my bay, we were — we were pretty busy all the time. Didn’t have much free time.


Question: Now you had a uniform, right?


Answer: We had — not — our uniform for dress were khaki pants and a white shirt with an over — Khaki overseas cap.  That’s what we used on Saturday morning when we had parades to drill.   But otherwise we had the men’s — we called them zoot suits.  They were — the men’s fatigues, and we’d just roll up the bottoms and roll up the sleeves, and so that’s what our uniform was.


Question: Wow.


Answer: And we wore tur — turbans on our head.  We covered up our hair, except when we were flying, when we had a helmet on us.


Question: Huh.


Answer: Now, the — when the program was over, in 1949, those that could be found, the WASPs that could be found, if they were in the right age bracket, they were offered commissions based on their service during the WASP program.  And so I was offered a second lieutenant, and I decided why not.   So I took it.  And  then much — I was flying as a Pan American stewardess at that time, and in 1951 I was invited to come on active duty with the Air Force because of the Korean campaign.


Question: Now active duty not meaning flying though?


Answer: No, no, there were no women flying.


Question: Was that hard?  I mean the fact that, you know, World War II we needed you, and come in, you start to fly, and now it — the war — a new war starts and it goes on, but we aren’t going to let you continue on?


Answer: I guess I had accepted the idea that women were not flying, and so I had a job that was close to flying.  I worked in operations when I was called on active duty, I managed to transfer into that field.  And so that was, you know, I was still doing a job and it was connected with flying.  The — I think that during — the Korean campaign, again, they needed military — they needed manpower.  And so they started calling women in on active duty.  And that’s how I was called in.


Question: Hm-hmm.  Did you — during World War II, did you have hopes of — that they would allow the women to go over and — and fly fighter planes and bombers and stuff like that or were you content doing what you — your part — where you were doing it.


Answer: Hm-hmm.  I knew what the boundary was.  And that was understood.  And so, no, I just wanted to — I think all of us thought that we just wanted to do the job that was assigned to us, and do the best we could.  So that’s —


Question: What an exciting time.  I mean, it must — I mean — for — I mean, there’s a travesty of war, and World War II was terrible in that way.  But yet here we have all this aviation development going on, and here you get to be a part of — of all of that.


Answer: It was interesting because when I — after graduation we had a short leave.  And then flying home to Miami, I was off-loaded twice on the airplane.  Because my priority was low.  And it was — there were so few airplanes flying commercially at that time.  Part of my trip home I rode on a bus to get out to maybe get a better flight and it took me almost two days to get home.  And it was wearing a new uniform and new shoes, it was pretty uncomfortable.


Question: Did most people, when they saw you in your uniform, your Saturday uniform,  your parade uniform, for all intents and purposes, did most people consider you military?  I mean, except for the military people who knew the WASPs were separate, but —


Answer: I think they probably did.


Question: Cause I — I always saw — I mean I had read it and realized it, but I always saw what you did as a part of the military even though you were civilian.


Answer: Hm-hmm.


Question: So that all was — fit in with the idea of the US really coming together and everybody doing whatever it took to —


Answer: Right, right.


Question: Wow.


Answer: So many women — I — I go to the library here in Seattle and look at some of the newspapers back in World War II.  It’s so interesting to read about what was going on at that time in this area and I’m sure it’s the same in all areas.  That you would find that women are being encouraged to do exercises to build their upper body strength and so forth to — so that they can perform better at certain duties.  Cause we didn’t know what was going to happen.  And it was important that we keep physically strong and be able to participate.  Even though we were women.


Question: So there was — there were — there were newspaper articles encouraging you to stay physically fit in school and encouraging women to stay physically fit to —


Answer: Well, at the time, for me, I didn’t read any of those.


Question: But looking back, you —


Answer: But looking back, yes.


Question: Did you face much of the propaganda — I mean, did you go see the Saturday news reels and things like that where they’re encouraging you to go out and sell war bonds and —


Answer: I think I was aware of it, yes.  But, yes, you’re pretty busy.  You know, you just go ahead and do what you’re doing.  And as I said, when I was learning to fly, I had to work to give me the funds to — to be able to fly.  So —


Question: Did you leave the WASPs with enough flight time to have your pilot’s license — full pilot’s license?


Answer: Well I did have a — I had enough for a commercial license.  So I had a — a commercial license after the WASP and I also had an instrument rating.  Most of the WASPs were contacted by the Civil Aeronautics Administration and the Weather Bureau to see if they — if we would be interested in a job with them.  And they encouraged us to apply.  So I did apply with the CAA and I did go into a field called radio communicator.  Aircraft communicator.  And I went to school, and there were several of us who did that.  And so I worked at that for — for awhile, and that was — we were based at airports and our job was to send out weather reports on the teletype and also to talk from air to ground to pilots who would fly by and want various information.  So I did that.


Question: When — do you remember the last time that you flew a plane?


Answer: Let’s see.  I guess that I can really report it was probably in 1944.


Question: Really.  So when it was done —


Answer: It was done, hm-hmm.


Question: You’d fulfilled your fantasy and —


Answer: I didn’t have anything that I was working toward, and I had to work, so I had to have a job that paid, you know, my — where I was going to — and take care of myself.  And I wanted to learn other things, new things, and go to new places.  And so I was fortunate to be able to do that.


Question: Did — many of the people that you crossed paths with, the other WASPs, did they go on to fly or —


Answer: Some of them did.  Some of them had connections with — with schools, and so they went and worked at schools, instructing.  But there were few jobs — few of those jobs.  And there were no other flying — there were — I don’t know of any flying jobs at that time that women were able to get into.  So most of them went into other things, did other things.


Question: It must be fun to get together with them, then.


Answer: Oh, it’s marvelous.  Now, all of these white-haired women go around and we — we’re like kids again when we get together.  It’s delightful.


Question: Now do you have grandchildren — do you have children?


Answer: Yes.


Question: Any grandchildren?


Answer: We have three sons and then we have three, three children by my husband’s first marriage, and then two with our sons.


Question: So do they know what Grandma did during the —


Answer: Well, I think they do, a little bit.


Question: They don’t yet really understand —


Answer: None of them wanted to fly.  It’s interesting.  Well, they’re all busy too, you know, they’re trying to earn their way into things that they’re interested in.  It’s — but I guess they kind of think it’s all right that Mom and Dad were there at the time of — that they were needed.


Question: Do you think that there’s a message from World War II that should be left with generations that you and I probably will never meet?  So that it’s either not forgotten or they understand or —


Answer: I think there should be an appreciation for the fact that the country did come together at a time of need and they pulled together the entire time.  And they accomplished the job through that effort.  And I think we should also take care of all those — those veterans that were left disabled and in need of care.  We should see to it that they are properly cared for.


Question: Now you had a brother that was in the Service?


Answer: Hm-hmm.


Question: And did he come home okay?


Answer: He came home okay, yes.  He was in the Navy, and he had an exciting career as a skipper on a tugboat and a fire fighter.  He was out in the Coral Sea and a number of battles.  Yes, we were fortunate to get him back.


Question: Wow.  Again, that had to be a constant reminder if you were at home, and the stars and the — that were hung for children that were over there and to know that your brother was over there fighting.  But again, I guess that sense of whatever it was, unity or pride, that — cause I listen to a lot of people talk, that kind of overrode the fear of — they never thought anything would happen to their family or —


Answer: I think that — when I talk to my husband who was a prisoner during — you know, I think that what a time they had.  The men who were — who served and they were — they were caught and were in prison camp for such a long time.  It was — it was so difficult, and it was — it was like another world really, from the rest of us who were home.  And it’s an appreciation we should have for the — for them.


Question: That is kind of one of those surreal aspects to war.  I mean, even though war was going on, we were a part of it, if you were at home, I mean you might have seen  soldiers coming home, but really the war was away somewhere.


Answer: Yes, that’s very true.


Question: Well, thank you very much.


Answer: You’re very welcome.


Question: It’s fascinating.

(Courtesy of WWII Voices in the Classroom,

Two good books on the topic (OK make that three recommendations):


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